Neptune Collonges' participation has given this race a rather lop-sided look with more than two thirds of the field racing from out of the handicap proper. Carrying more than the allotted weight has proved no barrier to success in the past, however, and connections of last year's first and second, Merigo and Gone To Lunch, will both fancy their chances again. The latter enjoys a big turnaround in the weights than when beaten nine lengths 12 months ago and should make his presence felt. Fair Along is sure to be prominent and weighted to go close, while Always Right is an improving chaser who is lightly raced for his age. Gansey fell at the first in the Topham Chase at Aintree but has always looked as though he could be suited by a stiff test of stamina and could run well at a big price while Minella Four Star beat dour stayer Ballyfitz in the Midlands National last month and Conor O'Farrell again takes off a useful 5lb. Anything Gordon Elliott sends across the Irish Sea at the moment demands the utmost respect, however, and CHICAGO GREY can add to his victory in last month's National Hunt Chase where he beat Beshabar and Be There In Five. The placed horses are better off at the weights here but the eight-year-old won a shade cosily and has the ideal partner in Paul Carberry to pick his way through this huge field on the final circuit.
Neptune Collonges (FR) 33-1 (11-10) Mid-division, blundered 3rd, never travelled with any fluency after, struggling 15th, never on terms, 8th of 13, 27l behind Long Run (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Blazing Bailey 16-1 (11-12) Mid-division, lost place 9th, soon behind, no danger after, 9th of 19, 50l behind Bensalem (11-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Mar.
Chicago Grey (IRE) 5-1fav (11-6) Held up behind on inside, steady headway on inside 4 out, tracked leader going well approaching 2 out, soon challenged, led soon after last, ridden and stayed on well flat, won at Cheltenham 4m am nov chs (2) gd in Mar beating Beshabar (11-6) by 4 1/2l, 16 ran.
Ouzbeck (FR) 16-1 (11-5) Close up, pushed along and weakened before 2 out, 8th of 14, 31l behind Cloudy Spirit (11-4) at Bangor 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gd in Mar.
Beshabar (IRE) 9-1 (11-6) Led to 3rd, tracked leaders, joined leader 20th, led again 3 out, hard pressed next, soon ridden, headed soon after last, no impression with winner flat, 2nd of 16, 4 1/2l behind Chicago Grey (11-6) at Cheltenham 4m am nov chs (2) gd in Mar.
Minella Four Star (IRE) 25-1 (9-9) Prominent, challenged 16th, led next, clear 3 out, stayed on well, won at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) gs in Mar beating Ballyfitz (10-0) by 11l, 17 ran.
The Minack (IRE) 6-5fav (11-4) Raced on inside, tracked leading trio, blundered badly and lost ground 14th, steady headway to 3rd 3 out, went well held 2nd soon after 2 out, weakened to 3rd close home, not recover, 3rd of 4, 6l behind Master Of The Hall (11-4) at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb.
Fair Along (GER) 25-1 (11-7) Led in start, soon mid-division, lost place 7th, soon struggling, plugged on to go moderate 4th at last, no chance with leaders, 4th of 19, 29l behind Bensalem (11-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Mar.
That's Rhythm (FR) 50-1 (10-4) Slowly away, behind when fell 1st, in a race won by Ballabriggs (11-0) at Aintree 4m 4f hcp chs G3 (1) gd, 40 ran.
Always Right (IRE) 9-2fav (10-10) Held up in rear, hit 2nd, headway on inner before 4 out, led aproaching 3 out, ridden before 2 out, just held on, all out, won at Doncaster 3m 2f hcp chs (2) gd in Mar beating Lothian Falcon (10-0) by hd, 11 ran.
Be There In Five (IRE) 20-1 (11-6) In touch on inside, headway to chase leader after 3 out to next, soon ridden and kept on same pace, no impression from last, 3rd of 16, 13l behind Chicago Grey (11-6) at Cheltenham 4m am nov chs (2) gd in Mar.
Poker De Sivola (FR) 8-1 (10-7) Held up in rear, blundered 16th, short lived effort 6 out, never near leaders, 6th of 15, 15l behind Sizing Australia (10-9) at Cheltenham 3m 7f hcp chs (2) gd in Mar.
Gansey (IRE) 33-1 (10-6) Towards rear, blundered and unseated rider 1st, in a race won by Always Waining (10-4) at Aintree 2m 5f lstd hcp chs (1) gd, 30 ran.
Roll Along (IRE) 20-1 (11-3) Raced wide, chased leading pair, reminders 8th, went 2nd 10th until 14th, weakened 15th, 6th of 8, 29l behind Iconoclast (10-4) at Ascot 3m hcp chs Listed (1) sft in Feb.
Gone To Lunch (IRE) 7-1 (12-0) Chased leaders to 6th, reminders and lost touch 13th, stayed on from last, never near leaders, 6th of 24, 38l behind Zemsky (12-0) at Cheltenham 3m 2f hts chs (2) gd in Mar.
Ballyfitz 16-1 (10-0) Chased leaders,lost place when not fluent 2nd, headway 13th, outpaced 5 out, stayed on from 2 out, went 2nd flat, no impression on winner, 2nd of 17, 11l behind Minella Four Star (9-9) at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) gs in Mar.
Merigo (FR) 33-1 (11-3) Held up towards rear, hit 8th, soon pushed along and outpaced, blundered 14th, never dangerous, 8th of 11, well behind Always Right (10-10) at Doncaster 3m 2f hcp chs (2) gd in Mar.
Regal Heights (IRE) 5-1 (10-7) Not fluent early stages, towards rear, steady headway when ridden along 7th, stayed on from next, went 3rd before last, strong run flat, led final 75 yards, won at Newbury 3m 2f hcp chs 0-145 (2) gs in Mar beating Alderburn (11-1) by 1l, 11 ran.
Fredo (IRE) 16-1 (11-2) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 9th, hit 15th, chasing leaders 17th, 6th and outpaced 3 out, well held after, 6th of 24, 42l behind Junior (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f Am hcp chs 0-140 (2) gd in Mar.
Heez A Steel (IRE) 8-1 (10-12) Chased leaders, with winner 13th, every chance 4 out, kept on from last, always held, 2nd of 10, 1 1/2l behind Garleton (9-13) at Ayr 3m 1f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Mar.
Iris De Balme (FR) 28-1 (10-12) Not fluent 4th, always towards rear, pulled up after 18th, in a race won by Synchronised (11-5) at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) hvy in Mar '10, 17 ran.
Neptune Equester 20-1 (11-4) Held up in rear, pushed along 8th, outpaced before 4 out, headway before 2 out, kept on and went 3rd before last, no impression, 3rd of 8, 9l behind Back In Focus (11-4) at Haydock 3m nov hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Lothian Falcon 33-1 (10-0) Held up towards rear, headway 12th, chased winner 3 out, soon ridden, stayed on towards finish, just held, 2nd of 11, hd behind Always Right (10-10) at Doncaster 3m 2f hcp chs (2) gd in Mar.
No Panic (IRE) 80-1 (10-0) In touch on outside, effort 4 out, soon outpaced, left remte 4th 2 out, weakened and lost place last, 7th of 19, 39l behind Bensalem (11-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Mar.
Cold Mountain (IRE) 9-2 (11-9) Tracked leader and keen, ridden and challenged 3 out, upsides 2 out, led last, kept on well towards finish, won at Taunton 4m 2f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gd in Mar beating Earth Planet (11-4) by 2 1/4l, 4 ran.
Morgan Be 14-1 (11-12) Held up in touch, chased leaders 4 out, smooth headway after 2 out to lead before last, hard ridden when strongly challenged towards finish, held on gamely, won at Hexham 3m 1f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Mar beating Lockstown (11-3) by hd, 12 ran.
Long Strand (IRE) 10-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, closer in 6th 7 out , good headway to lead before straight, asserted under pressure from before last, stayed on well, won at Thurles 2m 6f beg chase in Mar beating Boxing Along (11-12) by 4 1/2l, 16 ran.
Bellflower Boy (IRE) 11-4fav (10-0) Not fluent sulking in rear and well off the pace early stages, closer order 12th, mistake 17th, went 3rd 3 out, staying on when blundered 2 out, soon beaten, flashed tail under pressure flat, 3rd of 7, 21l behind Triggerman (10-10) at Cheltenham 3m 1f hcp chs 0-150 (2) gd.
Silent Cliche (IRE) 8-11fav (11-0) Led, challenged 2 out, driven clear before last, headed and no extra last strides, 2nd of 6, nk behind Final Veto (10-9) at Hexham 3m 1f beg chase (4) gs in Mar.
Hot 'n' Holy 66-1 (11-5) Chased leaders, in 3rd and ridden after 2 out, no impression, 3rd of 10, 34l behind Quotica De Poyans (11-13) at Kelso 3m 1f hts chs (6) gs in Mar.